Monday, 8 October 2012

Death Ray Manta (PC)


In my few years of writing about video games I've played quite a few that got me really, really excited early on. I'm a pretty enthusiastic guy about stuff and I sometimes do doubt my first impressions of a game, because I tend to throw myself into things. Better than off things, I guess.

Death Ray Manta, or DRM to its mates, is the first game I've played in ages that blew away any chance of me second guessing myself. It's an eruption, a condom full of crack exploding in a drug mule's stomach, a mainline hit of pure colour and light and energy and noise and speed and then more colour and more light and lasers, lasers everywhere. It's like opening your skull and dunking your brain in a bowl full of sugar.

Needless to say, I got a bit excited about it right off the bat. DRM is a joyous, joyful to play arena shooter that almost bursts out of the screen with its enthusiasm. The manta of the title whooshes around an excessively bright, neon drenched screen spewing waves of laser fire at robotic enemies while a perfectly fitting anthemic soundtrack cheerleads.

Explosions are wonderful novae of light and flare and with it being a laser spam arena blaster there's explosions EVERYWHERE by a few stages in. Our goggle eyed manta hero pukes electric death fire as an unseen narrator passes textual comment on the bottom of the screen: "Please Sir, I cannot tell a lie. DEATH RAY MANTA hit a pink robot in the face with a laser" is just one notification of the constant barrage of info as the player fries waves of enemies.


Gameplay involves holding down the fire button and going really really fast. It's simple and a brutal, lawbreaking level of fun. Likewise, the scoring seems to be incredibly simple, with your progress being recorded by the level reached and the number of 'Tiffins' rescued (the latter being a kind of bolt-on firing option that you can find hidden behind defensive walls and enemy formations on each level).
The musical soundtrack is a fist pumping electronic affair with one foot in the eighties and amongst the zooms and explosions there's cheering and applause from the sfx track as the player smashes yet another gang of robots into bits.

I think at one point during a run through of this game I began to levitate. That's how psyched up it got me.

All the levels have the titles of cult horror films but with one word replaced with "manta", enemies shout "flurble", "squeeze me" and "momma" when they die, and this is the kind of irreverence and tongue-in-cheekery you'd expect from Rob Fearon, who brought us the wonderfully mental War Twat a couple of years ago.


DRM is a Robotron-esque hyperactive shooter which surprisingly enough doesn't have much in the way of slowdown problems, despite being made with Game Maker! I've played much less "busy" GM games which had serious lag issues, and I wonder what kind of black magic Rob has been working to make this kitchen sink, neon explosion of a game work at a fair speed!

I challenge anyone to feel bad about themselves in the slightest after playing this game which manages to be life-affirming without even trying. Now stop reading this and go blow some stuff up. LIGHTS AND EXPLOSIONS EVERYWHERE!


Buy the game here (as part of Rob Fearon's £3.99 Bagfull of Wrong compilation).
5 out of 5